The Steepwater Band – Dharmakaya


Plain and simple, folks, the Steepwater Band rocks! Usually, such a trite phrase is used to describe something that ends up being just the opposite. But not this time.

The Steepwater Band is led by Jeff Massey on guitar and vocals and Michael Connelly on vocals, guitar, and harmonica. The rhythm section is Tod Bowers on bass and Joe Winters on drums. They’ve been together in various forms since their teens, and it shows – the band is tight in a way that comes only from playing together.

Their sound is a fun mix of boogie, blues, rock, and even a little bit of psychedelia. And the guitars tend to set the pace, often intertwining to the point of sounding orchestral. Check out “Ride Free”; a new motorcycle anthem is born and the dual guitar line is the midwife.

The guitars also provide the musical hook on some cuts. The stomper “Gettin’ By” has a guitar line that won’t leave your mind, and the slide solo is as nasty as it gets. The title cut is a melodic, loud, country-rock tune that lets the band show off its soloing skills. Check out the very pretty (southern, if you will) guitar on the long jam section. How about a soulful cover of Free’s “Oh I Wept”? It’s a nice tip of the cap to Messrs. Rodgers and Kossoff.

Vocally, there are a lot of influences, but they never overpower the voices of Massey and Connelly. Bits of Mick Jagger, Chris Robinson, and southern soul singers appear throughout, creating some very fine vocals.
It would be unfair to say these guys are a throwback to a time when rock and roll was just fine music, and not everything it has become in today’s media. They have the swagger and the chops of many of the bands we grew up with, they write fine songs, and deliver the goods. If you need a good dose of rock and roll, this is a fine place to stop.

This article originally appeared in VG‘s Sept. ’04 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.

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